Sunday 22 November 2020

Talking to another of our Best of CafeLit 9 contributors, Allison Symes.



What made you decide to write for CafeLit?
Now this is a toughie! That’s mainly because I’ve written for CafeLit for a long time and frankly can’t remember though I suspect being published by Bridge House Publishing was my way to discovering the existence of the wonderful CafeLit!  =I do recall being delighted to have found a website where quirky fiction was welcomed (and indeed encouraged). I love reading and writing quirky fiction (which I often call “fairytales with bite”) so trying to write for CafeLit was clearly the thing for me to do!


How did you pick the drink to go with your story?
I always find this bit more difficult to do than writing and editing the story! What I usually do is go by the mood of the story. If it is a light, humorous one, then I’ll pick a frothy type of drink. If the mood is darker, as it is with my flash piece,

Humourless, I will go for a stronger kind of drink. In this case, I picked bitter lemon which seemed appropriate to me.

Flash or short story. Why this form for your contributions this time?
Well, I must confess to having a foot in both camps here for Cafelit 9. My flash tale, Humourless, is a dark story and I felt it worked best by keeping it short. My other contribution is Green Door which is a longer short story but for my character, Emily, and the major changes to her life, the tale needed to be beyond the flash fiction upper limit. In both cases (and indeed for all of my writing), what suits the need of the character tells me what kind of story it is going to be. I think character first, word count very much second. If I know I’m going to be writing to a specific word count, then that tells me what kind of story it has to be - one that focuses on one moment of change for a character.

What makes a good story for CafeLit?
One that is different, quirky, and perks a reader up as they drink their tea/coffee etc. You want the story to make the reader feel as if they were glad to have read that story and they cared about what happened to your characters. Has to be an enjoyable experience!

What’s your latest writing news? 

I’m delighted to say my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, came out in September 2020 (Chapeltown Books). Some of my stories start life on CafeLit but I always write new material for the collections to go with these. You can find both of my flash collections and the anthologies where I’ve had short stories published at

I am pleased to say I now have a Youtube channel where I post my book trailers and, every so often, put up story videos I’ve created. It’s a good place to go if you want to see what flash fiction is all about. See for more.

By the time this goes out, I will have been at my first book festival as an author. I went to the online Brechin/Angus Book Festival on 21st and 22nd November 2020. I also took part in a Zoom event with you, Gill, and Dawn Knox back in September and it was great using a Powerpoint presentation as part of that. All good experience!

This year has been a strange one for everyone but to a certain extent it has made me more creative in my thinking. As events had to go online, I had to learn to make videos (which led to me setting up my own Youtube channel. I've also been a guest on Wendy H Jones's The Writing and Marketing Show talking about flash fiction. I've also been interviewed for Chat and Spin Radio twice too. So an interesting year but not the one I, or anyone else, would have anticipated I think!

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